Women who have breast augmentation in Paramus sometimes report reduced sensation in the nipples and areolae. In most cases, this is entirely resolved after 6 months.
Unfortunately, very few studies and statistics have been published on changes to nipple/areolar sensation after breast augmentation surgery. However, experience tells us that partial sensation loss occurs in approximately 5% of patients during this cosmetic surgery, and that sensation gradually returns to normal in the 3-6 months following surgery.
Full sensation loss is relatively rare, and occurs in less than 1% of women who’ve underwent breast augmentation surgery.
How Breast Augmentation Can Affect Nipple Sensation
The nerves that give sensation to the nipple and areola travel from between the ribs and out towards the surface of the skin. They extend to the peak of the breast from the breastbone, armpit, clavicle, and solar plexus regions.
That said, everyone is different — no two women will have the same shape or innervation of their breasts. In fact, most women’s left and right breast aren’t perfectly identical.
During breast augmentation surgery, the soft tissue of the breast is supplemented with a silicone or saline implant. An incision is usually performed either under the breast, around the nipple, or through the armpit. The implant is then introduced in front or under the pectoralis muscle, which covers the chest wall behind the breast.
Nerve supply to the nipple can be disrupted because the nerve is cut during the operation, or because inserting the implant stretches the nerve across a wider distance. This is why sensation loss is correlated with implant size — the bigger the implant, the more likely this becomes.
As the nerves grow back it can cause unusual signals — generally an itching, tingling, or intermittent “shooting” sensation. Some patients report decreased sensation (numbness), while others experience increased sensation (hypersensitivity). This usually gets better over time, and rarely lasts more than 6 months.
Patients often ask what incision technique best preserves nipple sensation. Evidence shows that there is no difference between an incision around the areola or an incision under the breast, as far as nipple sensation is concerned.
RELATED: Submuscular vs. Subglandular Implant Placement
Risks and Recovery
Everyone’s body responds uniquely to surgery, and aesthetic procedures are no exception. Any surgical procedure carries the risk of scar formation, infection, and body fluids collecting in the site of the operation. If these complications occur following breast augmentation, it can affect nipple sensation.
Unfortunately, there are no surgical procedures that reliably restore sensation to the nipples in the rare cases when it does not resolve.
However, it should be noted that ongoing or severe pain after breast augmentation surgery isn’t normal. If you are experiencing this, you should talk to your surgeon about it.
Remember that plastic surgeons take great pride in their patients’ satisfaction — your surgeon will likely want help you achieve the best possible outcome from a breast implant procedure, and this includes discussing unexpected pain or numbness. However, it’s always okay to find another care provider if you don’t think you are in good hands.
Drs. Gary D. Breslow and Jordan P. Farkas are widely recognized as leading authorities in breast enhancement surgery throughout New Jersey, and have successfully performed revision procedures on countless patients. Feel free to reach out to us for a second opinion if you are experiencing unexpected side effects following breast enhancement surgery.